You know how whenever a stalker who’s obsessed with a singer gets arrested, the stalker usually claims, in their defence, that the singer was directing particular lyrics in a song to them; never mind the millions of other people who heard the same lyric, it was meant for them only. Well that’s how I feel about this recipe. Aaron Maree meant it for me – look at the evidence: my favourite things in the world of cake are sponge, apples, coconut, cinnamon, almonds and pastry. This tart contains all of them. Mr Maree – what are you trying to tell me?
What caught my eye with this recipe was the way that it gets rid of that thorny issue of ‘shall we have pie or cake?’ Of course, the answer is to have both, but this recipe allows you do that in one piece. A whole Genoese sponge sits in the pastry case! Genius. The CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) observed that it feels like you’re eating three cakes/pies in one and it is a little strange at first as you won’t have eaten anything like it before. Once you overcome that sensation it’s deliciousness all the way!
Here is the sponge sitting in the base:
This gorgeous mix of apple, cinnamon and coconut is then added:
It is a nightmare to try and slice prettily though. This is probably a good place to ask whether any other bakers out there hate cutting the cake they’ve made? I loathe it and always pass the task to the CCM, standing on the sidelines panicking at every incision she makes. If it’s just me being weird then, fair enough, I accept I’m weird! The CCM worked her wonders with the knife and got a nice clean slice for a photo:
I made some tweaks to the recipe – the original recipe said to use cooking apples but the idea of Bramley apples with only 100g of sugar made my mouth pucker so I used a tart eating apple instead (Granny Smith’s). I also made 1.5x the pastry quantity as I have often found that professional pastry chef’s recipes are a bit stingy on the pastry because they’re so skilled at rolling it out paper thin. I’m glad I did extra as there wasn’t a lot spare. The quantities set out in the recipe below are what I used.
I loved the way the tort glowed when the apricot glaze was added:
Final thing to point out, the pastry in this recipe is quite hard to handle. It’s like a halfway house between shortcrust and shortbread and is delicious as a result . It’s extremely short and after barely 5 minutes out of the fridge turns soft – more like a paste. It does however patch well and a heavily floured work surface also helps. If you’re not that confident with pastry I would suggest using your own trusted shortcrust pastry instead of this one. You would be losing something though.
For the cake:
112g unsalted butter, at room temperature
112g caster sugar
112g self raising flour
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the ‘shortbread’ pastry:
450g plain flour
225g icing sugar
300g unsalted butter
Water as required
For the filling:
4 tart eating apples (I used Granny Smith. I used 6 apples which was too much – hence my hugely domed pie!)
6 level teaspoons cinnamon
30ml calvados (I used apple juice instead)
100g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
100g desiccated coconut
3 tablespoons apricot jam
For finishing off:
100g apricot glaze (I used ready made from Marks and Spencer, but if you can’t find it simply melt some apricot jam and brush it on)
200g icing sugar
2-4 tablespoons water
100g flaked almonds
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Line one 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tin with baking paper.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Do not skimp on this stage as it’s the key to a lovely sponge.
- Gradually add the eggs, flour and vanilla until fully combined and you have a smooth, thick batter.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared tin. Level the surface.
- Bake for approx 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Mine took 30 minutes.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing from the tin and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
- The sponge can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container.
- Now make the shortbread pastry: place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and blitz until you have fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs and blitz again.
- Add enough water to make a dough. Knead until a nice firm consistency then wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/Gas mark 6
- Lightly butter a 23cm springform pan.
- Take 2/3s of the pastry and roll out between two sheets of floured clingfilm. I floured the clingfilm as my pastry was soft and sticky; if yours isn’t then hold off on the flour.
- When you have a pastry disc big enough to line the inside of the tin and come right the way up the sides, transfer the pastry to the tin. Mine fell to bits but I discovered that it patches well!
- Return the pasty in the tin to the fridge while you prepare the filling.
- Now make the filling: peel, core and slice the apples – I cut each apple into about 12 slices i.e. I quartered it and then cut each quarter into 3.
- Place the apple slices in a bowl and add the cinnamon, calvados/apple juice, sugar, ground almonds and desiccated coconut. Stir so that all the apple slices are covered in the dry ingredients.
- Remove the pastry case from the fridge and spread the apricot jam over the base.
- Sit the Genoese sponge in the bottom of the tin. It should fit easily as it was made in a 20cm tin.
- Pack the coated apples around the sponge and over the top. Take care, because the tighter you pack the apples, the more you’ll get in!
- Return to the fridge while you roll out the top of the pastry.
- As before, roll the remaining pastry out between two sheets of clingfilm until you have a sufficient disc to cover the top of your torte.
- Remove the torte from the fridge and lay the pastry lid on top. Crimp the edges to ensure that nothing will escape during cooking.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the shortbread pastry looks cooked. Remember, the sponge is already cooked so judge it solely on the pastry.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. When the tin is cool enough to handle, remove the springform rim.
- Brush the top of the torte with apricot glaze and leave to dry.
- Now make the glace icing: place the icing sugar in a bowl and add a tablespoon of water. Whisk until a thick but runny paste is produced, adding more water as necessary to achieve this.
- Pour the icing over the top of the torte and, before it sets, scatter the flaked almonds over the top
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.